In my own life, I'm finding that although I did once diet and lost 15 pounds and kept it off for a few years (until I got pregnant), it was a miserable experience and I was hungry all the time, eating generally 1000 calories a day, which is just kind of insane. I'm trying to lose 30 pounds of pregnancy weight now, and am not dieting but just doing mild exercise (like walking) for at least twenty minutes a day, eating as much as feels right to me (what the FA folks call intuitive eating), and it feels so much better than dieting, I can't tell you. I get to eat what I want, when I want; when I'm hungry, I eat. And the exercise is giving me more energy and making me feel better. And I'm losing weight at the same rate as when I was dieting. I don't know if that'll continue, but right now, it feels great.
Okay, so with all of my confusion about my own 'fatness' in mind, here's the thing. Pre-pregnancy, especially in my twenties, I found tons of people attractive. Most of them, in fact, especially if I spent a little while talking to them and getting to know them. Even more so if they were evidently smart. If I thought they might actually be smarter than me, I pretty much jumped them right then and there. (I leave it to the reader to guess how many people that meant I ended up sleeping with. :-) The one exception back then was people who struck me as fat. And I can't say now what that weight or body fat percentage would be, for men or women -- I'm guessing somewhere above a 3X, but I'm just not sure. I didn't like the fact that I didn't find them attractive, but I didn't worry about it too much, because I was having enough trouble handling my attraction to all the other folks. (Poly only compounds that problem, in many ways.)
But now, I don't know whether it's hormones or what, but my sex drive has taken a nose dive, and I just don't find folks attractive anymore. Not people on the street, not cute guys and girls at cons, and most of the time, not my partner Kevin or my sweetie Jed. I can appreciate their looks in an aesthetic sense, but I don't get turned on nearly as quickly as I used to. I have to work at it now, get myself into the mood, think about how nice it might be to have sex (and gosh, doesn't that sound weak, compared to the barely-keeping-my-hands-off-this-guy-gal-I-really-shouldn't-touch-but-I'm-losing-my-mind of my younger days). Most of the time, reading a book or watching tv or even, god forbid, working (!) sounds more interesting and fun.
Now Kevin and Jed have been very patient, but the lack of sex definitely has been a strain on both relationships, and it's not like I don't like the sex once I get there -- I do, very much. So I've been making the effort to get there, and it's mostly working. Even if we do have to do things like schedule Wednesday night for sex. (Don't call me on Wednesday night, 'kay?)
So I think I can condition myself to find them, and others, attractive. Which makes me wonder about those people I thought were 'too fat' back in college? If I had made the effort then, would I have found them attractive too? Is it worth making that effort? Should I, for political reasons, to try to counter all the crazy media brainwashing around weight? (Not to mention skin color, straightness and length of hair, lack of body hair, etc.) Should I make the effort, just in case I'm missing out on a fabulous relationship for stupid reasons?
I'm not sure exactly what my question is here -- but it's something like: do you find a broad range of people attractive? Are there types you don't find attractive? Do you think it'd be worthwhile to find more people attractive? (Those of you in monogamous or polyfidelitous relationships may want to reframe the question for your once-single selves.) Do you think not finding 'fat' (whatever that means) attractive is a particular problem? And if you do want to recondition yourself, how would you go about it?
One exercise I read about recently is to try and think of at least one positive thing about the appearance of every person you see, no matter how minor. I wonder if that would help, over time.